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Subject: Moffo, Price...
From: albert innaurato <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:albert innaurato <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 15 Jul 2017 00:03:30 -0500

text/plain (102 lines)

I can't help responding to the Moffo statements here. I knew her well,
members of her family, knew of her first awful teacher, the grotesque
Madame Gregory (nee Giannini, sister of the international soprano Dusolina
and the gifted but conservative composer Vittorio) with her hearing aid and
no ability to register overtones (she was praised here) and Beverely
Johnson who did repair her voice enough to give her two extra years. One of
the several vicious fools here said: "she had damaged her reputation".

But some years ago in my blog as Mrs. John Claggart I wrote a reminiscence
of her. No one would place that blog with the most prominent writing out
there on the 'Net but to this day I get MANY emails from people who stumble
on it and write about how Moffo matters so much to them. Her reputation is
safe and she is as loved by as many people as any other singer from
relatively long ago that I know of.

I don't expect anyone to read it and don't care. And I find myself really
offended by the defenses of the scumbag who attacked L. Price and kept the
legend of Moffo's disaster alive.

It was Mercedes Llopart who taught Moffo how to sing -- at least to the
degree she did learn. Herself a soprano who had a career that included La
Scala, Llopart taught Alfredo Krauss who sang well virtually his entire
life and died with those stunning high notes intact, Renata Scotto and
Fiorenza Cossotto who whatever they put their voices through had long,
rewarding careers.

There's a tape of Moffo before she went to Curtis, a high school girl,
singing Un bel di. And there's a tape of her after she graduated. They are
the same. Her years there with "Madame Gregory" had given her no polish, so
technical security, no certainty. The amazing endowment is obvious, her
feeling for the music, tremendous, but her tendency to approach higher
notes from below resulting in some flatting and a habit of crooning rather
than establishing a strong focused soft tone are potential problems that
any good teacher would have corrected.

Llopart did correct them for a time and helped Moffo secure her high notes
(she left America on her Fullbright year packing the arias of Delila and
Carmen, she thought she was a mezzo! That's thanks to the supposedly great
"Madame Gregory".). But the year ran out, Moffo, from a poor family, was
broke and was afraid she'd have to leave Italy. Against the odds, she got
the Madame Butterfly TV movie and became a huge star. Knowing she had to
make a living, Llopart tried to help her juggle offers with free time so
she could continue to study. But there were too many offers, they were too
lucrative and Moffo who had struggled financially for years jumped.

She reverted to her earlier habits and sang far too much. But she did sing
at the top of the profession from 1955-1975, and a twenty-year span is
about par for opera singers. For a would be singer like her detractor the
pirate nut job who used to publish pathetic videos of his deranged videos
on YouTube, who achieved literally nothing in a too long, utterly empty
"life" to put someone down who was as talented as Moffo (or Price) is
grotesque. And I now know something really unpleasant about those who would
empower this freakazoid fool.

As for Price, I saw her very often from 1958 until the late 1980's. If
someone wants to argue that she was in the right place and time with enough
talent to outsing some possible rivals but short of a miracle, fine. She
was indeed a lyric soprano. She had a soaring top that made her very
famous, and that carried well. The middle was modest in volume, she had no
chest or lower range at first, later she developed that odd gulp for the
lower fourth of her voice which probably undermined her somewhat. The most
unforgettable performance I saw was Barber's Cleopatra. She gave everything
and was thrilling, individual. She sang a phenomenal Liu in Philadelphia.
Her Butterfly, somewhat awkward physically, was gorgeously sung and very
moving. She won the evening as Aida in the 1960's through the sincerity and
beauty of her singing in act three and the Tomb Scene. I thought she did
very well in Trovatore and Ernani without perhaps achieving the heights of
some others (to be heard on records.) I found her less convincing in
heavier Verdi roles, and she tried some things that didn't work for her
life -- Fiordaligi and Tatyana -- for example.

But my opinion doesn't matter. In the sixties, she was a huge icon.
Audiences packed the Old Met and the Academy of Music to see her and were
utterly thrilled to be in her presence. It was hard not to be influenced by
those ecstatic responses. And sometimes there was ecstasy in her singing --
I remember a Zweite Brautnacht in concert in Philadelphia around 1959 that
was stunning.

She did have a wonderful recording voice and made some great records, which
often enough she did not quite match live (that was even truer of Caballe).
But again after all this time, who cares? I think in the gestalt of that
time she was unique and like other singers whose great success owes a lot
to circumstances (I think of Farrar for example or Mary Garden) much of
that thrill on encountering her live can't be recovered -- as with them,
records do capture skills and gifts that are sometimes overlooked -- but
not the delirious enthusiasm of audiences in her era. There are far worse

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